Matanuska–Susitna Valley: Birds, Bogs, & Brews

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Lesser Yellowlegs, Bill Thompson

Trip 20.  MatanuskaSusitna Valley: Birds, Bogs, & Brews

Date:  Saturday, 29 June

Start and end times: 8:00 am–7:00 pm

Cost: AOS registration fee is $75 per person (covers van, gas, box lunch, park fee, muskox farm fee, pizza and beer).

Maximum participants: 14, well suited for parents with children

Meals: Box lunch provided, dinner at Matanuska Brewery

Trip Leader(s): Jerry Hupp and TBA

Trip Description:

This trip will extend participants’ exposure to the diversity of habitats in Southcentral Alaska, from lowland wetlands in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley to the high elevation tundra of Hatcher Pass. Our first stop will be at Reflections Lake in the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, walking a 1-mile, relatively flat interpretive trail around the lake where we can observe upland songbirds as well as waterfowl and shorebirds. There is also an observation tower that allows for scenic views and birding out across the refuge. We will meet with an historian from Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats, who will provide a glimpse into the fascinating history of the refuge, from its origins as the homeland of the Knikatnu Native people, to the agricultural experiment of the Great Depression, to how the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 created this vast wet area at the head of Cook Inlet. We will also hear a bit about current efforts to engage local citizen-scientists in tracking trends in the boreal wetland bird species that breed in habitats like these.

We will then journey on across the valley toward the Hatcher Pass Management Area, where we will wind our way up to Independence Mine State Historical Park and some fabulous alpine scenery and birding opportunities. Interpretive trails and signs provide insight into the long mining history of this area and allow for easy walking in this steep terrain. After our adventures in the alpine, we will return to the Palmer Muskox Farm for an hour-long guided tour of the farm, highlighting muskoxen natural history, some engaging exhibits and a gift shop, and of course up-close opportunities to view these incredible Arctic animals. We’ll finish off the trip at a local brewery where you can relax over a beer and casual dinner, comparing field notes with other participants.

Likely species:

Palmer Hay Flats:

Hatcher Pass:

Recommended Gear and Cautions:

Sturdy hiking shoes or boots, rain gear, warm layers, backpack with snacks and water, sunscreen, and insect repellent.

Additional Information:

Palmer Hay Flats Refuge:

Reflections Lake:

Hatcher Pass Management Area:

Independence Mine State Historical Park:

Palmer Muskox Farm:

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